I did it!!! I finally finished it!! Four years and a few weeks after starting this epic story, I have written the last chapter!!
Thank you to everyone who has supported me over those four years, whether you were there from the start or just recently found the story. Your feedback and encouragement has kept me going through all the writer's block and lack of inspiration, to achieve the longest story I have ever written (somewhere around 186,628 words!).
As I have said in recent chapters, I will now be going through this story, fixing up any mistakes, and adding some extra scenes ready for publication. If you are interested in buying it in either CD or download form, keep an eye on the Ancient's Gate website: .. If you want the print form, go here: .com/
I'm not sure how long it will take to get the story into print but if you want to be kept updated, let me know and I'll put your name on a list and contact you when there are developments. There will be pictures in the publication so that you can see what everyone looks like, and these are already in development.
Once again, thank you and I hope that you enjoy the final chapter!
Part 60 - A Whole New World
Wednesday, 21st January
In the four weeks since Christmas, Daniel had been very busy. He had played with all his Christmas presents many times, gone to day-care nearly every day, gone skating and sledding several more times, and had even stayed over at Nick's new home (and Jack had come too, which had made it even more fun).
At the moment, he was in his bedroom drawing pictures from the astronomy book Jack had given him for Christmas. He had learnt a lot about the mythology of the stars and today, he'd had the bright idea that he could put the star shapes up on his ceiling so that he could look at them every night. So he had got out his sketchpad - the small one - and started copying the shapes he felt were the most important (Oma had helped him with this) until he had thirty-eight in total. As he had drawn them, he had put them in a circle around him (again, Oma's suggestion).
Jack walked in as Daniel was surveying his handiwork. He had wondered why his little brother had been so quiet, and now he found Daniel sitting in the centre of a circle of strange-looking pictures. "Daniel, what are you doing?"
"I drawed the stars," Daniel replied proudly, thrilled with his accomplishment. "Can we put them up there?" He pointed to the ceiling.
"Uh…" Jack was about to refuse but then he took a good look at the pictures Daniel had drawn. They were familiar - very familiar - and Jack suddenly realised where, outside of astronomy books, he had seen those shapes before. Jack couldn't be sure that all the shapes were there but if he was correct, Daniel had unknowingly drawn the 'Doorway to the Stars'. "Daniel, why did you choose those stars?" he inquired as calmly as he could.
Daniel shrugged, confused as to why Jack wasn't happy. "Oma says they're the most 'portant ones."
Not fully taking in what Daniel had said about Oma, Jack made a spur of the moment decision. "Daniel, you're a genius! Pack these up - I've got something very important to show you."
Ten minutes later, armed with thirty-eight sheets of paper and his bundled-up genius brother, Jack drove to the Cheyenne Mountain base. Once there, he carried Daniel and the paper quickly down to the twenty-eighth level where the Doorway resided. A bunch of scientists, including Sam Carter, were in the briefing room arguing about something that Jack didn't care to know about. "They're constellations!" he announced.
All eyes in the room turned towards him. Jack strode over to the table and put the sheets of paper on it, spreading them out with one hand. "The answer was there all along - Doorway to the Stars. Those symbols on it are constellations."
Stunned, Sam picked one sheet up and looked at it. Then she turned to the large window that overlooked the stone ring and stared for a long minute. No-one spoke as she compared the constellation to the shapes she could see on the ring until she came across its twin. Finally, she turned back to the others. "How did you figure this out?" she asked Jack. She couldn't believe he had the knowledge for this.
"I didn't. It was Daniel," Jack replied as he set his brother down on the edge of the table. "I found him drawing these not thirty minutes ago."
Everyone stared at Daniel for a few seconds, then started talking at once. Daniel looked up at Jack, more than a little confused. "What did I do?" he asked.
Doctor Robert Rothman, who was standing nearby and whose son was one of Daniel's best friends, explained, "You've just done what no other linguist could do. You've discovered what the Doorway says."
"What doorway?" Daniel was even more confused; the one he could see didn't have any writing on it at all.
"That Doorway," Rothman stated, pointing out the window.
Before Daniel could ask, Jack picked him up and carried him over to the window. Daniel looked at the big grey ring, his nose wrinkled in puzzlement. "That doesn't look like a doorway," he said to Jack, thinking that the grown-ups were very strange.
"That's because it's a special kind of doorway," Jack replied. "Do you want to see it up close?"
Daniel nodded; it was getting very noisy in the room.
Leaving the scientists behind to discuss the new discovery, Jack took Daniel down into the control room first where they found General Hammond heading towards them.
"Captain O'Neill, what is going on?" Hammond questioned, alarmed by the noise he could hear.
"Oh, nothing, sir," Jack said casually. "Daniel here has just solved the writing on the Doorway, that's all."
Hammond looked in astonishment at the four-year-old boy, who hid his face against Jack's neck under the scrutiny. "How did he--?"
"I'd love to explain, sir, but Daniel wants to see what all the fuss is about," Jack interrupted, not wanting to get into long explanations right now. "With your permission, sir?"
Speechless, Hammond could only nod.
In the room that was dominated by the stone ring, Jack put Daniel down on the base of the ramp. Then, taking Daniel's hand, he led the boy up to the huge ring.
Daniel stood there, gazing up at the huge thing, awestruck by how big it was. After about a minute, he bravely let go of Jack's hand and went over to one side. Cautiously, Daniel reached out to touch it. The stone was cold but smooth, and his fingers traced over the constellation he could see. It was so amazing!
Intrigued now, Daniel explored all the constellations he could see. He got Jack to lift him up to see more, and the highest one puzzled him. "That one's not right," he said, pointing it out to Jack.
"Why not?" Jack wanted to know, taking a look at the inverted 'V' with the circle on top.
"It's not a cons-ellation," Daniel explained. He tilted his head sideways to see it better. "It's almost like a pyramid under the sun," he continued, his imagination drawing a complete picture for him.
And if one looked at it that way, Jack thought, it matched the seventh symbol on the coverstone perfectly. "Daniel, you're an absolute genius!" he exclaimed.
"Why?" Daniel still didn't get why this was so important.
"Because you've just done what no-one else could," Jack said, grinning at his little brother. "Let's go back and tell the others what you found." He shifted Daniel to an easier carrying position and headed back up to the briefing room.
They entered to a lively discussion about the six known symbols. Jack gathered that some of the scientists were dismissing the discovery simply because a child had done what they couldn't. Jack felt a swell of pride that it was his little brother who had unknowingly solved the puzzle that the adults had been struggling with for months.
Daniel spotted his drawings on the table and asked, "Jack, can I have my pictures back?"
"You betcha," Jack replied, making his way over to the table and picking them up. "Here you go."
"Thank you." Daniel accepted them happily, more concerned with them than with what was happening around him.
Deciding not to interrupt the scientists, Jack went over to the whiteboard nearby and drew the seventh symbol after the six already written there. Then he stepped back and waited for a reaction.
Doctor Catherine Langford, whose grandfather had discovered the Doorway back in the 1920's, had just stepped into the room as Jack was drawing the symbol. She stepped over to him and observed what was written on the board. "You deciphered it," she said incredulously.
"Actually, Daniel did," Jack stated, making sure his brother got the credit.
"Right under our noses," Catherine mused, still staring at the board. Her lifetime dream was about to be realised and being only forty, she was still young enough to go through the Doorway and explore what was out there. Then what Jack had said sank in and she turned to him. "Who's Daniel?"
"Me!" Daniel exclaimed, hugging his drawings to his chest.
"This is Daniel," Jack stated proudly, inclining his head towards the boy. "My brother."
Catherine looked at the little boy in amazement. "Well, well," she chuckled, thinking of all the time and money that had been spent by professionals on the task. "So, Daniel, how did you work all this out?"
Daniel stared at the old woman for a moment and then said, "I wanted some stars to put above my bed so Oma helped me choose them and then I drawed them."
Jack's eyebrows raised at the mention of Oma, and then he realised that Daniel had said something like that earlier. It seemed that Daniel's imaginary angel friend was going to get some of the credit too.
"Well, I'm very glad you did, Daniel," Catherine stated, giving the cute boy a smile. "Very glad indeed. Sam!" she called to the nearby Lieutenant.
Sam looked over at Catherine and her eyes widened as she saw what was written on the board. "Did you do that?" she queried.
"No, apparently it was Daniel here," Catherine replied. She turned back to Jack. "I don't suppose he can read hieroglyphs as well?" she asked, not expecting an affirmative answer.
Jack grinned with pride. "Actually, ma'am, he can."
"My mommy teached me," Daniel shared. He had continued to practise the hieroglyphs in his alphabet book and so could still remember them.
Sam looked at Catherine, seeing where this was going. "You can't seriously--" Daniel might be a child genius but surely he couldn't translate the coverstone.
"Oh, I can," Catherine stated with a grin. She drew a set of symbols on the board. By this time, everyone in the room had stopped to watch. Catherine pointed to the symbols and said, "Our translators think this says 'Doorway to the Stars'. What do you think?"
"Maybe he'd like a dictionary," scoffed one of the older scientists.
Daniel shook his head. "Don't use Budge. Budge is bad," he stated solemnly, parroting what he had heard his mother say many times. "Mommy knows the proper words and she teached them to me."
A broader smile pulled at Catherine's lips; the boy was so adorable - and accurate too; Budge wasn't the genius everyone thought he had been. "So, Daniel, can you read it?
Studying it for a few moments, Daniel replied, "It says 'Stargate'." He remember both of the symbols that his mommy had taught him.
The same scientist as before still didn't believe it. "He made that up."
"I did not!" Daniel refuted indignantly. "You're just jealous 'cos you can't read it."
There was some muffled laughter and a few agreeing murmurs from the others at this. The scientist in question went red and was about to retort when Catherine held up her hand. "That's enough, Gary. I think Daniel deserves the benefit of the doubt, don't you?"
Gary was saved from replying when a low rumbling sound started up. Then the newly-dubbed Stargate began to spin.
"He was mean," Daniel whispered to Jack as everyone rushed out of the room.
"He was," Jack agreed absently, staying put with his brother. If there was danger about to come through the Stargate, they would be safest up high. However, he moved so that they could see what was happening down below.
"What's going on?" Daniel asked his older brother. The spinning ring fascinated him and he was eager to find out what happened next.
"I'm not exactly sure," Jack responded, his eyes also on the Stargate. He only hoped that it was something good - for everyone's sake.
A MALP came through first, and that confused everyone. Was their first contact going to be with people like themselves? Or with someone who had stolen their technology?
Watching from above, Jack held his breath, hoping that whoever came through was not going to be hostile, especially since Daniel was with him.
After several long minutes, four figures came through the shimmering blue surface of the Stargate. Thirty seconds later, Sam rushed up the stairs to the briefing room. "Captain, General Hammond wants you downstairs immediately."
"Why?" Jack questioned, not wanting to go down until he was sure it was safe.
"You'll see," was all Sam would say before she headed back down again.
Jack briefly looked out the window again and saw a figure that somehow seemed familiar. Then, obeying the order, he headed down into the control room. Once there, Catherine gestured for him to follow Hammond into the Stargate room. Curiously, Jack did so.
And froze at the sight that greeted him.
Hammond looked at the junior officer. "Captain Jack O'Neill - meet General Jack O'Neill."
Staring at his doppelganger - who looked a good twenty years older than him and bore a strong resemblance to his father - Jack commented, "You've got to be kidding me!" This wasn't possible; there was no way this was possible!
"Seven years ago, I would have agreed with you--" General O'Neill started to say before he was interrupted by the man at his side.
"Actually, it's probably closer to six."
"Daniel," the general warned in a tone that implied years of patience.
"I'm just saying," the brown-haired man commented before turning his attention to the boy Jack still held in his arms. "I'm Doctor Daniel Jackson. And you are…?"
Young Daniel's eyes widened. "That's my name!" he exclaimed. Why did this stranger have his name? Although he kind of looked like Mommy, which was even more weird.
"Really?" Jackson had expected the boy to say 'Charlie', given the age of this universe's Jack, but never had he expected that the boy would be himself! There was over thirty years difference in age, for one thing.
"Uh-huh," the young version nodded. "So how come you've got my name?"
General O'Neill smiled in amusement. "Oh, this is going to be an interesting briefing."
A few minutes later, the individuals who had come through the Stargate were in the briefing room with Hammond, Jack, Daniel, Catherine, Sam and the base's second-in-command, Colonel Reynolds. Daniel was sitting on his brother's lap but staring at his namesake, trying to work everything out and ignoring the discussion about how he had translated the Stargate's symbols until the old Jack spoke.
"Daniel figured out the symbols?" General O'Neill said incredulously, looking at the little boy. "I mean, I know our Daniel did that but he was thirty, not… four."
"Oma helped me," Daniel stated. "I told her I wanted to draw the stars for my room and she said which ones were the best, and then Jack came in and said I'd done something very 'portant and he brung me here where I found an upside-down pyramid on the ring and a mean man said I couldn't read hie-ro-glyphs but I can 'cos Mommy teached me."
Jack saw the looks the alternate team exchanged at Oma's name; they knew something about her and he wasn't going to like it. Before he could ask though, Jackson said, "You did do something very important, Daniel. You helped these people unlock the Stargate so they can explore the stars."
"Where the angels are?" Daniel inquired innocently of his Jack.
"Yeah," Jack replied, aware of everyone's eyes on him.
Satisfied, Daniel leaned back against his brother and let the conversation flow around him again. When he heard about alternate universes, he believed it completely; it explained everything, especially how there could be two of him and two of Jack. But there was something he had to know from the big Daniel. "Did your mommy and daddy die too?"
Everyone at the table stopped speaking as the older Daniel hesitated. After a few seconds, he replied, "Yes, they did." He glanced briefly at the boy's guardian and then asked, "I take it that also happened here?"
Little Daniel nodded solemnly. "Now Jack's looking after me 'cos he's my brother. Did he look after you too?"
Jackson shook his head, his expression sad. "No, he didn't because we didn't know each other back then. I wish we had though because it seems like your brother loves you very much." What he would have given for someone like that thirty years ago. His foster years hadn't been too bad but they could have been better.
"And we're not brothers," General O'Neill added, wondering how that twist of fate happened in this reality. "But we're best friends, which is pretty good too."
After silently absorbing that for a few seconds, young Daniel had another question. "So how come you're all older?"
General O'Neill leaned back in his chair and looked further down the table at his 2IC. "Colonel?"
"Maybe it's because the Ancients from our universe came through to here," Sam Carter theorised. "That might have been enough to send the timeline down a slightly different path."
"That would explain the age differences," Sam agreed, her intelligent mind processing all the information. "And why Captain O'Neill and Daniel are half-brothers in this universe. Somewhere in the past, their bloodlines merged rather than remained apart."
The discussion continued on but the boy in their midst had stopped paying attention; he knew all that he needed to know. Daniel hopped down from Jack's lap and went around the table to investigate the big silent black man with the strange gold tattoo. When he got to Teal'c - he remembered the name from the introductions earlier - he said, "Hello."
Teal'c looked down at the pint-sized version of the adult he knew. "Hello, Daniel Jackson."
Daniel climbed onto Teal'c's lap, confident that he wouldn't be refused. "Why do you use both my names?" he inquired curiously.
"It is a custom on my world," Teal'c replied; the only sign of amusement visible was the slight twitch of his lips.
"What's that?" Daniel asked, pointing to the tattoo.
"A symbol of my slavery," was Teal'c's response.
Daniel examined the tattoo, his fingers exploring. "It's stuck on good."
"It is indeed," Teal'c stated solemnly, deciding not to go into details.
Jack looked over at his brother, having kept an eye on him. "Daniel, don't annoy Teal'c." He knew how inquisitive Daniel could be.
Teal'c tilted his head. "He is not annoying me, Captain O'Neill. He is merely learning." Much like the older version, who was always asking questions.
"What does the symbol mean?" Daniel queried, taking that as permission to ask more questions.
"It is the symbol of Apophis, a false god," Teal'c informed him.
Daniel brightened. "I know about Apophis!" He proceeded to tell Teal'c all about the stories he had learnt from his parents, unaware of others at the table watching the two of them interact.
General O'Neill simply groaned. "I knew you had to be this talkative as a kid," he said, speaking to Jackson.
But that Daniel wasn't really listening as he stared as his younger self with a contemplative look. How nice it must be for this Daniel to grow up knowing he had someone who loved him. If only he'd had the same experience. But, in a way, that life had helped shape him into the man he was today. This Daniel would likely turn out much different.
"Danny." The general nudged his friend.
"Hmm? Oh, sorry," Jackson apologised to everyone, embarrassed to have been caught staring instead of paying attention.
General Hammond just smiled in sympathy; goodness only knew what Doctor Jackson had been through in his life but it had obviously been quite different to what little Daniel's would now be.
Instead of continuing the discussion, Hammond decided to split the visitors up so that the most could be gained from their visit. The two Jack's were to remain in the briefing room, as were Teal'c, Colonel Reynolds and Hammond to discuss the Goa'uld threat, allies, tactics, and similar things. The Carters would go off to discuss the Stargate while Jackson and Catherine would meet with the other linguists and archaeologists to talk about cultures and the coverstone. As for little Daniel…
"I'm going with me!" he called out as the adults stood up. He slid off Teal'c's lap and ran over to his older self. Daniel wanted to hear all about the different cultures and languages that people in the stars used; maybe they would talk about angels.
Jack was surprised and a little hurt. He was used to Daniel sticking with him all the time, and to have the kid chose to go with someone else… well, it hurt. "Are you sure?" he asked, hoping that Daniel would stay with him.
On some level sensing that Jack was sad, but not understanding why, little Daniel went around to hug his big brother. "I love you."
Jack felt the hurt ease. "I love you too, kiddo." What did he do to deserve such a wonderful brother? "Now go have fun talking about myths and stuff," he ordered gruffly.
"Yes, Jack," Daniel said happily. He went over and grabbed big Daniel's hand. "Come on!"
When everyone who was going to had left, Jack turned to his older namesake; he had a few questions that he hadn't been able to ask earlier. "So, who is this Oma person?" When O'Neill remained silent, Jack persisted, "I saw your look - you know who she is. Obviously, Daniel hasn't just made her up so… who is she? Is she dangerous?"
O'Neill winced. "It depends on your point of view."
"In your point of view?" Jack pressed for a better answer.
"She's… helped us out a couple of times," O'Neill replied, trying to think of how to explain the whole Ascended thing. "Daniel knows more about her than I do so he should be the one to explain."
"I'm asking you." Jack didn't know why O'Neill wasn't answering his questions and it worried him.
Teal'c decided to save O'Neill from explaining by speaking up. "Oma Desala is an Ascended being known as an Ancient. When Daniel Jackson was dying two years ago, she offered him ascension. He remained amongst the Ancients for a year before returning to mortal form."
Jack stared at the big Jaffa. "He died?"
"He ascended," O'Neill corrected. "Apparently there's a difference." His tone implied that he wasn't sure there was one.
Jack wasn't sure what to make of all of this. First of all, he had never believed in aliens, although he enjoyed science-fiction, and he had certainly never thought that another him might exist somewhere. Now he was being asked to believe that not only did another him exist, but there were multiple realities out there, as well as aliens and now, apparently, angels. "Is she a danger to my Daniel?"
"Probably not. So far, she's only been a danger to the Goa'uld," O'Neill replied, thinking back to the team's encounters with the Ancient being. "She really doesn't like them."
"So what does she want with Daniel?" Jack wanted to know. It didn't make any sense to him why such a supposedly powerful being - if he was correctly reading between the lines - would want a four-year-old boy.
"Because he has a great destiny in front of him."
The words, spoken by a woman, surprised them all and as one, everyone looked to the end of the long briefing room table. There, dressed in white and glowing, was Oma Desala.
Jack found that he couldn't speak for a few moments. He was stunned by the woman's sudden appearance, as well as the confirmation that Oma did, in fact, exist.
O'Neill, on the other hand, was able to state sarcastically, "Oh, what a surprise. And how do you know he has a great destiny? You didn't even meet in our universe until we went to Kheb."
"Communication did not cease with your reality simply because some left it," Oma replied, briefly glancing at O'Neill before focusing on Jack. "I have known for some time that Daniel Jackson would be instrumental to the Stargate program, although I had not expected him to be so young."
It was then that Jack had a horrible thought. "Did you kill Daniel's parents?"
"No, I did not," Oma stated truthfully. "However, I could not interfere and prevent them from dying either. Because of this, I offered them ascension so that they could continue to watch over you and Daniel."
So technically, he hadn't been lying to Daniel when he said that Claire and Melburn were angels; that was enough to make his head spin. "And then you just 'happened' to assist Daniel in drawing the constellations earlier? Why couldn't you wait until he was older?"
Oma smiled gently; she could use cryptic messages to explain it but somehow, she knew they wouldn't be welcomed or understood. "You were already trying to open the Stargate. If Daniel wasn't involved when it was opened, then events would not proceed well. He will be the reason you gain many allies in the universe."
"He's four years old!" Jack exclaimed. "He's not going to be going through the… the Stargate for years!"
"But the allies will come to you," Oma stated. "The ones who will help and protect you, will see humanity's potential in him and in you. Both of you have special abilities because of your blood."
Jack looked at her, puzzled, then shifted his gaze to O'Neill. "Do you have any idea what she's talking about?"
"The Ancient gene. It means that you can operate Ancient technology," O'Neill said casually. "Which can be good sometimes but you really don't want to use their head-suckers. Not good." He gave a shudder.
"I take it that you - and consequently, I - have this gene?" Jack asked, trying to comprehend everything he was being told.
"And also Daniel Jackson," Teal'c intoned, having listened to Oma's words.
"But… but that doesn't make sense," Jack complained. "Obviously I have a different mother to you," he said, looking at O'Neill, "so the gene would have to have come from Dad's side of the family, which means that Daniel wouldn't have it. Your Daniel doesn't, does he?"
There was a short silence before O'Neill answered that. "We don't know. It's only recently that we've begun testing people for the gene, and I made the decision not to test Daniel." When the archaeologist had found out about that, he had been angry but once Jack had explained the reason to him, Daniel had accepted it.
"Because of his year being glowy. There's no way to know if he had the gene before he ascended, and we don't want him tested now because that'll just give the NID another reason to try and grab him." It had been a tense year, anticipating that the NID would try to take Daniel for experiments, but fortunately nothing had happened.
Colonel Reynolds, who until now had been very quiet, spoke up. "So it's possible that both the O'Neill and Jackson lines passed this gene down through the generations?"
Everyone looked to Oma, who nodded slightly.
"Well then," Jack said, "I suppose someone had better tell me just exactly what this gene does."
"Do you have a Grandpa Nick?" Daniel asked his older self as they walked through the corridors, Catherine behind them.
"I do," Jackson replied, "but I don't see him any more. He lives on another planet now." He still felt that his grandfather was more interested in discoveries and not him. "What about here?"
"Grandpa Nick used to go on lots of digs but now he's stopped and he buyed a little house here and now I get to see him lots," Daniel enthused. "And I can speak three-and-a-half languages, and Mommy and Daddy sent me a tool kit for Christmas so I can be a proper archaeol'gist like them."
"That sounds…. good," Jackson said, not quite knowing how to respond to the little boy. This was him thirty-four years ago; it was so strange to see what he had been like.
"When you explore the stars, have you seen your Mommy and Daddy?" Daniel questioned innocently.
"No, I haven't." Jackson wondered whether it had been this world's Jack who had told Daniel about angels in the stars.
Daniel thought about that for a moment and then nodded to himself. "That's prob'ly because angels only show themselves to people when they're 'lowed to or if they're ready to. That's why Oma said I could see her 'cos I was ready to see her but Jack wasn't, and she said that Mommy and Daddy weren't 'lowed to see me." He didn't remember exactly what Oma had said but he figured that was pretty close.
Jackson wondered whether Oma had been telling the truth about little Daniel's parents, and then he wondered why the Ancient being had bothered visiting at all. Unaware of the conversation happening in the briefing room, thought about the possible reasons and came to the conclusion that, without being able to talk to Oma to find out, that she was subtly interfering in this reality for a purpose that Jackson was sure he didn't want to know.
"Are the pyramids older than everyone says?" Daniel changed the subject; he had plenty of questions he wanted to ask. "'Cos Daddy says they are."
A question he could answer. "Yes, they are," Jackson stated with a remembering smile; he hoped his parents in this reality hadn't put forward that theory publicly or if they had, that they hadn't been laughed out of academia. "A race called the Goa'uld build them. But you can't tell anyone that." He stopped and knelt down in front of little Daniel. "Do you know what top secret means?"
Daniel started to nod his head and then changed it into a shake.
"You know that a secret means that you're not supposed to tell anyone else?" Jackson received a nod in response. "Well, top secret means that only a few people are allowed to know something very special and that they can't tell anyone else. So knowing about the Stargate and anything that you hear here today, is top secret. You won't be allowed to tell anyone about it, not even your best friends or Grandpa Nick or--"
"Or Grandma Iris and Grandpa Tom?" Daniel queried.
"Exactly." Jackson put aside the question of who they were for now, although he had an inkling they might be related to Jack. "Most people don't want to know that aliens exist or that they used to live on Earth in Egypt because it scares them. So do you think you'll be able to keep everything a secret?"
Daniel frowned, thinking it over. He wanted to tell the mean people who had said his daddy was wrong that they were wrong but by the sounds of it, he wouldn't be allowed to. Nor could he tell his grandparents, and he really wanted to do that too. "But what if the words want to come out by themselves and I don't mean to say them but they come out anyway?"
"I don't know. I think that's something your brother will have to decide," Jackson replied. "But do you think that you'll be able to keep this all top secret?"
"Maybe we shouldn't include Daniel in these talks," Catherine stated, glancing down at the smart little boy.
Daniel's eyes filled with tears at the thought of being excluded. "But I'm good at keeping secrets and I helped you with the Stargate thing and the consellations! I want to go with you!"
"Okay." Jackson awkwardly picked Daniel up, settling him on one hip. "It's okay, you can come with us. I believe that you'll be able to keep this a secret. And you'll always be able to write about it in your journal."
That was good. "Can I tell my toys?" Daniel wanted to know as he rested his head on his big self's shoulder. "They won't tell anyone either."
"I think they can be trusted too," Jackson replied, shooting a glance at Catherine, who seemed bewildered by Daniel's reaction. "So, you want to find out about the stars?"
Daniel nodded eagerly, his tears forgotten. This was going to be so exciting!!
Two hours later, Daniel was hungry so Jackson took him to the commissary for some food. Not long after they sat at one of the tables with their trays, Jack entered with O'Neill not far behind. Jackson figured that someone had made a call to the briefing room and let them know what was happening.
"Jack!" Daniel called out, pleased to see his brother. He stood on his chair and when his brother got close enough, launched himself into Jack's arms. "Have you been learning lots?"
"Yes, I have," Jack replied. He had learnt a lot more than he had ever wanted to, and partway through, he had realised that he owed Nick an apology. He had thought his grandfather was nuts for believing that story about the crystal skull but now, after talking to O'Neill, he had learnt that it was the truth. And as for the Ancient gene stuff - well, he wasn't sure how he was going to cope with that yet. "What have you been learning about?"
Daniel launched into a monologue as Jack sat down, the little boy remaining on his lap. He ate when Jack reminded him to, so there were occasional silences but they didn't last for long.
O'Neill brought a tray of food over for Jack to eat, guessing that they would probably have similar preferences. The three adults then ate in silence, listening to the little boy who was supposed to the Earth's great hope for the future. Like his counterpart, O'Neill wasn't sure how much help little Daniel would be for the next fourteen years but presumably Oma knew something he didn't.
After lunch, they all headed back to the briefing room, where everyone else involved had assembled. When everyone was seated, Daniel again on Jack's lap, Hammond cleared his throat and started to speak. Jack tuned out a lot of it until he heard his name mentioned.
"To that end," Hammond was saying, "taking into account what we've heard today, I have decided that SG-1 will be made up of Colonel Reynolds, Captain O'Neill and Lieutenant Carter. Your first mission will be to go to Chulak and see whether the Teal'c of this world can be encouraged to join us."
A mission? To another planet? In spite of his trepidation, Jack was thrilled that he would get to be on the flag team and possibly be the first through the Stargate. Except… He looked down at Daniel. Going through the Stargate was going to be dangerous. Just because the other SG-1 team had survived for seven years, there was no guarantee that his team would be as fortunate. "Sir…"
"Oma Desala has indicated that she will do what she can to ensure your safety, Captain," Hammond stated. "But that does not mean that you can behave in a reckless manner."
"No, sir." By the sounds of it, Oma would prevent him from dying but probably not from injuries that weren't life-threatening. That meant that he would have to always act in a way that would get him safely home to Daniel.
The meetings for the rest of the day, everyone making the most of having the alternate SG-1 team around to find out questions they never thought they would get the answers to. Jack's priority, however, was his brother. He let Daniel say goodbye to his adult counterpart and then took the little boy home.
Daniel was full of excitement but after dinner, his enthusiasm waned; it had been a long day. He had his bath, as usual, and then went straight to bed. After Jack finished reading him a story, Daniel asked sleepily, "If you see Mommy and Daddy in the stars, can you tell them I miss them and I love them?"
"That I can do," Jack replied, leaning down and kissing Daniel's forehead. His little genius, the child who could do what none of the adults could - admittedly, with some help. But it had been all Daniel when it came to the translation, and Jack thought to himself that he knew why Oma called Daniel special.
"I wish I could go too," Daniel continued.
"One day," Jack promised. From the stories he had heard, he knew that the Daniel in the other reality was an important part of the team and much as Jack might want to protect his brother, he knew that he couldn't prevent him from exploring what was out there. Besides, by the time Daniel was old enough, the Goa'uld might be gone.
Daniel smiled and then snuggled down in his bed. As he drifted off to sleep, his thoughts were of exploring the stars with his brother and meeting with all the angels and aliens out there. He was going to have so much fun…